By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett Silvertips did just about everything right Saturday night against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
But there was one aspect conspicuously missing: putting the puck into the net.
Everett was unable to convert its puck possession into the equivalent number of goals, as the Tips fell 3-2 to the Seattle Thunderbirds at Comcast Arena.
Everett won on the shot clock, the possession meter and in scoring chances. However, is was Seattle that prevailed on the scoreboard as too often the Tips couldn’t find the right final touch. The situation was summed up by a third period in which Everett outshot Seattle 11-4, but was outscored 2-0.
“I liked how hard we worked,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said. “I thought we had a really good first period, they didn’t really get anything in the first except a couple chances from their power play. From a team work-ethic standpoint I thought it was outstanding.
“We don’t score easily, so sometimes based on the opportunities we create, you’d like for that to turn into goals a little bit more,” Constantine continued. “If you want to talk about territorial play and work ethic and so forth, I thought it was really good. If you want to talk about our ability to take our chances and get three or four out of the chances we had — we don’t score easily, that’s all I can say. They did. They didn’t have to have a lot, and they got some goals. That was probably the difference, they converted better than us.”
Sam McKechnie, Russell Maxwell and Adam Henry, all players acquired from Lethbridge in separate trades during the season, scored the goals for Seattle (37-17-2-3), which won its fourth straight game against Everett. Three of those four games were won by a single goal.
“It was another exciting game against these guys,” Seattle coach Steve Konowalchuk said. “It was exciting, tight checking and a good win for us.”
Seattle also received a strong effort in goal from Taran Kozun. Kozun, acquired from Kamloops at the trade deadline, stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced. He was particularly strong in the first period, when he held a hard-charging Everett team to one goal to keep the T-birds in the game.
“They’ve been a different team since he arrived,” Constantine said of Kozun. “That’s kind of turned their season around. He keeps them in there until they can get going. I think that’s what a good goalie does, a good goalie always gives your team a chance in games. He held them in there. We could have been up maybe 3-0 at the end of the first, because we came on pretty strong. He made enough saves to keep it a 1-0 game, and they’re in the game.”
The victory, combined with Prince George’s 4-3 overtime loss to Kamloops, clinched a playoff berth for Seattle.
Joshua Winquist and Patrick Bajkov scored for Everett (28-22-7-1). Winquist’s goal was the 200th point of his WHL career, all of which have come with the Tips. He is third in franchise history in points behind Zach Hamill (262) and Shane Harper (214).
Austin Lotz finished with 16 saves in net for Everett.
Everett led 2-1 going into the third period, but things quickly went south for the Tips as Seattle tied it just 1 minute, 39 seconds into the period. Maxwell dashed into the offensive zone on the rush, then put a shot past a cutting teammate and over Lotz’s shoulder to knot it at 2-2.
Seattle then took the lead at 9:07. With the teams playing four-on-four, Henry spun away from Dawson Leedahl along the left boards, knifed into the slot and backhanded a shot over Lotz to give the T-birds the lead.
Everett pushed for the tying goal in the final 10 minutes and created chances. But Kozun denied Cole MacDonald when MacDonald worked his way into the slot, then Winquist powered a shot through traffic and off the post. But Seattle held on.
Everett had the better scoring chances in the first period, and the Tips took the lead on the power play at 7:26 as Winquist’s one-timer beat Kozun over his glove side. Everett could have scored more, but Kozun made several good saves, including denying Jujhar Khaira on a short-handed breakaway.
Both teams then scored during an Everett power play midway through the second period.
Seattle struck first as McKechnie broke up a Tips pass at the blue line, headed on a partial breakaway, then trickled a shot just past Lotz and into the corner to tie it at 1-1 at 7:40.
But Everett got the goal right back 23 seconds later. Carson Stadnyk missed with the net gaping, but the puck bounced into the air, where Bajkov was able to bat the puck in. The play went to a video review over whether Bajkov hit the puck with a high stick, but the goal was upheld as the Tips took a 2-1 lead into the third.
Everett continued to be without wingers Zane Jones and Tyler Sandhu because of upper-body injuries, while goaltender Daniel Cotton and winger Darcy DeRoose remain suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. … With Cotton suspended, 15-year-old call-up Carter Hart continued to serve as Everett’s back-up goalie. … Seattle was without winger Connor Honey because of an upper-body injury, while center Scott Eansor was out because of illness.
Thunderbirds 3, Silvertips 2
Seattle 0 1 2—3
Everett 1 1 0—2
First Period—1, Everett, Winquist 37 (Pufahl, Nikolishin), 7:26 (pp). Penalties—Hauf, Seattle (hooking), 7:01; Maxwell, Seattle (holding), 11:41; Aasman, Everett (roughing), 14:18; Delnov, Seattle (roughing), 16:18; Betker, Everett (roughing), 16:18; Winquist, Everett (roughing), 17:07.
Second Period—2, Everett, McKechnie 6, 7:40 (sh). 3, Everett, Bajkov 7 (Stadnyk, Mueller), 8:03 (pp). Penalties—Elliot, Seattle (interference), 6:54; Troock, Seattle (hooking), 8:49.
Third Period—4, Seattle, Maxwell 13 (McKechnie, Smith), 1:39. 5, Seattle, Henry 7 (Bear, Barzal), 9:03. Penalties—Wardley, Seattle (roughing), 7:27; Winquist, Everett (roughing), 7:27; McKechnie, Seattle (delay of game), 13:54.
Shots on goal—Seattle 6-9-4—19. Everett 12-6-11—29. Power-play opportunities—Seattle 0 of 2. Everett 2 of 5.
Goalies—Seattle, Kozun 16-21-2-1 (29 shots, 27 saves). Everett, Lotz 20-18-3-1 (19 shots, 16 saves).
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.